• The Aboriginal flag mural in Redfern, Sydney. (AAP)Source: AAP
It's been 50 years since the Aboriginal flag was flown for the first time. It is a sign of activism, celebration and a symbol for all Aboriginal people.
Karina Marlow

12 Jul 2016 - 9:39 AM  UPDATED 9 Jul 2021 - 3:01 PM
  1. It was flown for the first time on 9 July 1971 in Victoria Square, Adelaide on National Aborigines Day, a precursor to NAIDOC Week.

  2. The flag was designed by Luritja artist and land rights activist Harold Thomas from Central Australia.

  3. The colours of the flag are red, yellow and black. Harold Thomas said the red was to represent the ochre colour of the earth (focusing on the relationship that Aboriginal people have with the land), the yellow to represent the sun (the giver of life) and the black to represent the Aboriginal people of Australia.

  4. The flag quickly gained popularity within the land rights movement after it was flown at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in January 1972.

  5. The flag became an official Australian flag under the Keating Government in 1995 along with the Torres Strait Islander flag.

  6. Permission is not required to fly the flag but official flags can only be purchased from one Australian company. Unfortunately, the copyright for merchandise bearing the flag was sold to non-Indigenous clothing company WAM. No other company is allowed to print the flag on their products. 

  7. Cathy Freeman stirred up controversy at the 1994 Commonwealth Game by running her victory lap with both the Australian national flag and the Aboriginal flag after winning the 200m and 400m races. However, at the London Olympic Games Indigenous boxer Damien Hooper was warned about breaching the Olympic Charter when he wore an Aboriginal flag t-shirt into the ring. 

  8. Harold Thomas still holds copyright in the flag which was reaffirmed in a 1997 Federal Court case. Permission must be obtained from him for all reproductions.

  9. The flag was flown at all Olympic venues during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney after campaigning from the National Indigenous Advisory Committee.

  10. The first city Council to fly the flag was Newcastle City Council in 1977. The flag is now flown prominently across Australia at public buildings, schools and at community events.

    Call for Aboriginal and Torres Strait flag emojis goes viral
    'Dear Apple. Can you add an Aboriginal Flag to our iPhone Emojis next update!' says young Aboriginal woman.